London: Magnets could soon help the human body fight off prostate cancer, say scientists.
A team at the University of Sheffield in Britain, in fact, claims to be developing a treatment for prostate cancer, which uses a magnetic force to help the human body`s own cells destroy tumours.
Unlike chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the new treatment could kill cancerous cells without harming healthy tissue, which is what causes side-effects such as tiredness, nausea and hair loss, the `Daily Mail` reported.
According to the scientists, the treatment uses magnetic particles to help the body`s white blood cells kill tumours.
When prostate cancer develops some of the white blood cells, called macrophages, flock to tumours to try to fight them. However, as these tumours grow and spread so rapidly the blood cells are unable to keep pace.
To speed up their action, the scientists have injected the cells with magnetically charged nanoparticles, each one 1/50th the width of a human hair. This force enables the cells to move much more quickly around the body targeting tumours.
Early tests in the laboratory have shown that these white blood cells can reduce numbers of cancerous cells, say the scientists.
They stress, however, that the treatment is in its early stages, and hope to carry out human trials within five years.
Dr Jay Richardson, who led the team, was quoted as saying, "We know that when prostate cancer develops, a type of white blood cells called macrophages flock to the scene.
"Previous research has allowed us to harness these cells to deliver cancer fighting therapies directly into the cancer cells. Now with some magnetic assistance, we`re able to refine this method so the macrophages deliver the therapy to prostate cancer cells only, leaving healthy cells unharmed."